Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Genre: YA, Fantasy
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
“He grinned at her, his smile sudden and jarring as a thunderclap, his eyes the near-black of bitter coffee. “We’ll be kings and queens, Inej. Kings and queens.”
I keep asking myself why I put off reading this book for so long. It was fantastic. Six of Crows is the perfect example of why I love fantasy as much as I do. It was everything I hope for in a great fantasy book – incredible world building, intrigue inducing backstory, complex and memorable characters, and most important completely and utterly gripping to the point where you don’t want to put it down for anything.
“-that was the Ketterdam she loved, empty and quiet, high above the crowds, a moonlit mountain range of gabled peaks and off kilter chimneys.”
I was a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy – the whole world she built in those books is a book world I think about often for how magical it was as well as how terrifying. It is such a complex and beautifully crafted book world with layer upon layer of histories and cultures with a unique magic system that isn’t so much considered a magic but rather a science. It’s unforgettable and one of the biggest reasons I picked up Six of Crows, I wanted to dive back into that world. While Six of Crows is set in the same world as her trilogy it’s also very different. Six of Crows is set several years after the events of the trilogy, it is set in a different part of the Grisha universe, and most importantly we’re introduced to a whole new cast of characters. Six of Crows at its core has absolutely nothing in common with the trilogy besides the world and magic system (and the magic system is focused on in an entirely different way). So, if you’re wondering if you can go into this one without reading the trilogy then yes you can.
“Wolves, dragons, what was next? In Ravkan stories, monsters waited to be woken by the call of heroes. Well, she thought, we’re certainly not heroes. Let’s hope this one stays asleep.”
Six of Crows was also everything I didn’t know I wanted in a fantasy novel. A lot of people are big on villains, I’ve never been partial to them. And while I wouldn’t consider this cast of characters villains per say I would consider them ‘anti-heroes’ as they are criminals. We have a set of characters that mostly deal in gangs, pick-pocketing, gambling, thievery, and spying who are chosen to do the impossible – break into the Ice Court which has never been successfully breached to rescue a scientist that has created a drug to use on Grisha that could ultimately destroy the world. Why do they do it? For the money of course. Do they succeed? You’ll have to read to find out.
“A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who has become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.”
Besides the world building, my favorite thing about Six of Crows was the characters – we have six main characters. I’m not usually one who can get into books with so many perspectives, but for this one it worked so well and really added something to the story. Leigh Bardugo crafted these beautifully diverse and unique characters that are also very flawed. She writes them in a way, however, to where, despite their flaws, you can’t help but fall in love with each and every one of them.
Kaz, Inej, Nina, Jesper, Matthias, and Waylan are all so complex and have the depth that I want and expect from characters in a fantasy novel. I love them and don’t think I’ll ever forget them.
“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.
Our wonderfully secretive leader is Kaz (aka Dirtyhands) who is a character that not only is a master schemer, thief, and feared by most but also has a disability.
Inej (aka the Wraith and my favorite) is the perfect spy and a badass female POC. Literally, Inej has taken over my top favorite female character spot.
Nina is a Grisha, a Heartrender to be specific, and I really admired the fact that she is completely herself and also as badass as Inej. Seriously, the females outrank the males in this book in my opinion.
Jesper is a hilarious character who I felt more often than not was the comedic relief but at the same time he holds his own secret, is known as a sharpshooter, and has a fondness for gambling.
I feel like Matthias and Waylan are so closely ingrained into the story that to go into either of them would be spoiler central. Just know, you’ll fall in love with both of them as well.
“Nina,” Matthias said softly, “he’s just a kid. He’s one of us.”
One of us. A boy not much younger than she was, caught up in a war he hadn’t chosen for himself.
Each of the above characters also has really heartbreaking backstories. I won’t go into detail because the reveal of each character is spanned over the course of the book but just know that if you’re a crier you might want tissues.
Something else that I really enjoyed was the fact that there were romantic hints but there wasn’t any actual romance. It’s almost as if Leigh Bardugo dangles the possibility and then snatches it away. I loved the hint of there being more between certain characters but loved, even more, the fact that it wasn’t focused on too much.
“No mourners. No funerals.”
Six of Crows is so unique and I’ve honestly never read anything else like it. I even feel like it was better than the Grisha trilogy. Leigh Bardugo’s writing was incredible in the trilogy but has gotten even better in this. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, gripping, and unique fantasy to dive head first into then look no further because this book is the book for you. It has a shocker of an ending that will have you instantly wanting to read the sequel. I highly recommend it!
Have you read Six of Crows? What did you think of it? If not, do you want to read it?